Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope hummingbird male
Calliope Hummingbirds male (credit: Rocky Raybell)
Calliope hummingbird female
Calliope Hummingbird female (credit: Rocky Raybell)

The tiny ping ball-sized Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the United States but still manages to fly more than 5000 miles each year all the way from Mexico up as far as Canada and back.

They also punch above their weight when it comes to defending their territory and even chase Red-tailed Hawks.

Male Calliope Hummingbirds have bright magenta rays on their throats (known as the gorget), glossy green crowns, backs and flanks, and dark brown tails. Their underparts are white.

Females have the same glossy green crowns, backs, and wings, but lack the iridescent magenta throats of the males. Instead, they have dark streaks on the throat. They are also pinkish-white underneath rather than white in the males.

  • Selasphorus calliope
  • Length: 3.1 – 3.5 in (8 – 9 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1 oz (2.3 – 3.4 g)
  • Wingspan: 4.1 – 4.3 in (10.5 – 11 cm)


Calliope Hummingbirds’ spring migration is to the Rocky Mountains along the Pacific Coast to breeding areas in California, Colorado, and up to northwestern states, Alberta, British Columbia, and Vancouver Island. They start migration relatively early in February to arrive from Mid-April to early May as far north as Canada.

Fall migration is by the Rocky Mountains to wintering grounds in southwestern Mexico, but also more recently to the Gulf Coast in late August and September.

Habitat And Diet

You can find Calliope Hummingbirds in mountain meadows and willow and aspen thickets near streams during the breeding season. They are also seen in open forests that are regenerating after a forest fire or logging activities.

Because of their size, Calliope Hummingbirds usually take nectar from cup-shaped flowers or tubular flowers that are not actively fed on by larger hummingbirds. They also catch insects midair. They also frequent sap wells created by sapsuckers and take advantage of the sap and insects that get stuck in them.

Calliope Hummingbird Call And Drumming:


Nests are usually on evergreen trees underneath overhanging branches that serve as protection from the cold. The nests look like a cone camouflaged by lichen, moss, or bark, and wrapped by spiderwebs. In the next nesting attempts, they may reuse them or build on top of an old nest.

The female lays only two eggs that are incubated for fifteen to sixteen days. Males do not care for the young but they do chase intruders away.

Fun Fact:

Calliope Hummingbirds aid in pollination when they collect nectar from columbine, trumpet gilia, and elephant head plants.